Nine Days in June. #2. The Fifth Annual LCS/THS Banquet.
The Fifth Annual Torrington High School Banquet.
Tuesday, June 4. Chatterley’s Banquet Facility
After a very short deep breath, it was time to head to Chatterley’s to celebrate 47 Torrington High School Athletes who were chosen for the All-Litchfield County Sports team.
This year marked our fifth celebration, one designed to continue our mission of spreading the good news about the student/athletes from THS.
When we started this event, five years ago, I had no clue if anyone would show up.
After all, who was LCS?
Award dinners are normally run by the Naugatuck Valley League or the school itself so when we invited two athletes from all 22 teams at the home of the Raiders, I had no idea whether anyone would show up.
We held that first event with a tremendous friend and supporter of LCS, Robbie Persechino from Bogey’s at Greenwoods Country Club.
On a night I thought no one would come, a flood of over 100 showed up, forcing us to search for tables, chairs and even chicken.
I remember joking with Rob that we might need to take a run to Kentucky Fried Chicken because of the remarkable turnout.
That night taught me something.
We were onto something.
Recognizing of student/athletes in front of their families, their coaches and local dignitaries was important and was something that was needed so we were off.
Years two through five saw us move the banquet to a larger location at Chatterley’s Banquet Facility, much to my dismay because of how good my friend Rob had been to us but in the next part of the story, we return to Greenwoods.
This year, we were set to honor 47 athletes from THS, the normal 44 (2 from all 22 sports) plus three more because the Raiders boys’ basketball team made a terrific run all the way to the semi-finals of the Division III state tournament.
Several years ago, when the Torrington softball team made a run to the finals in Class L, we honored the starting nine. We also celebrated with the girls’ volleyball team when they made their run all the way to the final game of the year.
Each year, the response I get from the community is outstanding. We give out two, $250-dollar scholarships to the top male and female student athletes and each year, they are donated.
This year, once again, they were supported by Ed Arum and Kory Fador, two local businessmen who never miss an opportunity to step up and give to the kids.
We have two guest speakers each year and for 2019 we brought back two guys who played together on the Raiders championship team of 2016.
Gary Robinson (G-Rob as he is known) and Michael Fabiaschi (Fabs, as he is known) did themselves proud by talking with the student/athletes on hand about their time as Raiders.
Let me back up a minute though.
Remember that first year when I thought nobody would show up?
I no longer think that way, not after close to 130 packed into the big room at Chatterley’s, enough to take me back to the days of searching for tables and chairs at Greenwoods.
My wife Deb, my daughter Kimberly and her boyfriend Joel handled the front end check in with Joel eventually helping me search for chairs and spots at tables for the masses.
I felt like a Maitre d as I looked for and then guided folks to open seats or created space at already crowded tables. May be time to open both sides if this keeps up!
Folks were settled in and ready to go at right around six so we started the program.
After greeting the room, I passed the microphone over to two woman who have been tremendous supporters of ours for some time now, Mayor Carbone and Superintendent Lubomski for their greetings.
A feature we added three years ago, the Joe Friscia Courage Award, was first on the docket right after dinner.
This year, the award, named after our friend Joe Friscia, who passed of Pancreatic Cancer two years ago, was being presented to five-year old Parker Therriault, son of Raider football assistant coach Andrew.
Last year’s recipient, Brian Bassler, was on hand to present the award to Parker and next year, Parker and his family will pass it on to the next recipient.
The evening, like all of them, was filled with laughs, great conversations and some surprises, one meant for a good friend and sponsor of the event and one for me.
I had found out from Tanya Dowd, the owner of Lily and Vine, the fine folks who have been adorning every one of our tables for the past four years with an amazing assortment of beautiful flowers, that her husband Rich, a Torrington Police officer, had a birthday that day.
Hey, I’m never one to turn down an opportunity to surprise someone so we brought out the eclairs, shaped like a 50 and saluted our friend Rich who is much deserved of the tribute.
As I got set to wrap-up the night, I was interrupted by a surprise visit from Kimberly, who suddenly appeared on my left side, much to my surprise.
In a moment that will forever resonate with me, my daughter spoke to the crowd about my efforts that evening and throughout the time I have been building Litchfield County Sports.
My daughter told me she was proud of me and that I inspired her. Well, she inspires me as well.
She brought the crowd to their feet for a standing ovation for me, something that humbled me to my core.
I don’t do this for the recognition, I recognize others.
I did though, truly appreciate the gesture and the thoughts from the crowd.
We wrapped up the night a little after 8 p.m., also an impressive feat considering how much we did.
Next year, the date of the event is Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Right back at Chatterley’s.